Civil Rights Leaders, Groups Speak Up

Time for Retrans Reform!

Washington, D.C. August 21, 2013 — In the last few days, several prominent civil rights leaders and groups have called for reform of our broken retransmission consent system. The lack of updated video rules has led to millions of Americans being blacked out in several cities. As long as the current retrans system remains in place, Americans will continue to be subjected to blackouts and higher fees.

The American Television Alliance applauds these groups for speaking up for consumers. Below are some excerpts from their statements. The full statements are linked below.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., President and Founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition: “We have long advocated for a solution that calls for broadcasters and multichannel video providers to resolve retransmission disputes without harming consumers or further distorting the program production marketplace, and we continue to support this policy stance today…With the Internet now being used as a negotiating tool, it is that much more important that we find a solution to this problem. The blocking of free, public programming on the website epitomizes a complete disregard for consumers. Public programming is supposed to serve our communities, and CBS is taking advantage of Americans by denying them of this right.”—August 19, 2013

Sen. Sharon Weston Broome (LA), National President, National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women: “American citizens should not be used as bargaining chips in an attempt to demand absurdly higher retransmission fees. I applaud Time Warner Cable for standing their ground and extend my support to those affected by this unnecessary and outrageous act by CBS Corporation.”—August 20, 2013

National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators  “calls on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene and take action to improve the rules of retransmission agreements in order to protect consumers from the threat of interrupted services.” –August 20, 2013

And from last week:

Marc H. Morial, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Urban League:  “This recent dispute once again demonstrates the need for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide guidance which will set ground rules and a more consistent path toward resolution of retransmission consent disputes. The NUL remains committed to working with the FCC to develop regulatory guidelines between content providers and distributors that promote diversity in programming and ensure that communities have access to content which promotes the public interest. A consumer’s choice of internet providers should not impact their ability to access content that is freely available to all other internet users.”—August 16, 2013

“We are particularly concerned by the unprecedented step taken by CBS to block access to to Time Warner Cable’s Internet customers…This conduct is unconscionable in that it’s not germane to the dispute at hand.  It only serves to demonstrate how unruly broadcast fee disputes have become and what careless disregard CBS has for the rights of their customers.”—Brent Wilkes, League of United Latin American Citizens, August 14, 2013

Rep. Joe Armstrong (TN), President, National Black Caucus of State Legislators: “Industry disputes and station blackouts can be attributed to the lack of retransmission consent laws that reflect current competitive realities. Antiquated retransmission consent laws can also lead to public confusion and higher subscription prices.”—August 9, 2013

“…civil rights and consumer advocates argue that is not right for a dispute to end up denying viewers access to important news and emergency information. And in many markets such as New York and Los Angeles, this loss of access to programming affects large numbers of African Americans, Latinos and seniors.”—Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, August 6, 2013


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